Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Women's Running Magazine Half Marathon Race Report

I must admit, this race has been on my schedule since before Apalachicola. I never really announced this to the blogworld though because well, I didn't want to stress over my goals. It worked. I actually had a pretty stressfree weekend. It helped that this race was about ten minutes from my house!

Friday night, Stephanie arrived. I was able to meet up with her and Penny for a couple of drinks but managed to leave around 9PM since I had to walk a 5K with work bright and early Saturday morning. It's too bad though b/c apparently they had quite a fun night!

Saturday came quickly. I walked a 5K with work. It was very kid friendly. I even carried one of my friend's 2 year old for about half a mile. I wasn't worried about the race. I just went about the day like normal. Penny had to work, so Stephanie and I hit up the expo, got lunch and then went to my pool to ice/heat! Not sure if that counts as an ice bath, but we figured it wouldn't hurt!

We ate an early dinner at Cafe Cibo and called it a night.

My alarm was set for 4:45AM which is the exact time that I wake up during the week to run before work - so, I felt really at ease! I got ready, ate my clif bar (my new secret fuel) and got ready!

The most chaotic part of the weekend came the hour before the race started. We all arrived near the start early, so we parked and decided to warm up. Well, we decided we'd jog about a mile to the bathrooms and then pack. The bathrooms were at least a mile away and the lines were loooong. I remember standing about 10 people back in the lines and looking at my Garmin. It read 6:32. The race started at 7:00AM.

We had to jog back to the cars to switch shoes and then back to the start line before 7AM! I do always wish that I would warm up closer to the start and not an hour before just to wait around. In the end, it turned out perfect. I literally got in my corral about 4-5 minutes before the start but I must admit I was quite nervous that I wouldn't be able to navigate through the 5000+ runners that quickly! We were in corral one and wanted to start as close to the start line as possible!

My secret goal all along was to break 1:40, though I knew I would be perfectly happy with a time around 1:42-1:43. The night before at dinner, I wrote down the average paces for every time between 1:36 and 1:45. I figured 1:42 was manageable and 1:40 would be a stretch. I didn't really have much to go by other than my recent 5K time and my 15 miler a couple of weeks ago. My coach told me that he wanted to work on my confidence and success (I guess we are still repairing the damage of Apalachicola). He wanted me to start at 8:00 minute miles and run that for the first 5 miles. Then, he wanted me to start picking up the pace and finish strong. I was okay with this goal ... but really wanted to give a try at the 7:45 pace.

My friend, Jen, wanted to run her first couple of miles at the 7:45 pace and then pick it up. We decided to start together and promised that we wouldn't run faster than 7:45 pace for at least the first three . . .

The airhorn goes off, and we start. Not even .1 in, we look at our Garmins and we're going at a 6:45 pace. We decided that we didn't want to lose the race in the first mile, so we kept trying to slow down. We tried for the entire first mile and finally came across in 7:23.

For the next three miles, I was just trying to feel out the pace. Around mile 2, I wondered if I could hold it. It didn't feel too hard and I was just running mile to mile. I just wasn't sure. This was the only moment of doubt I had the entire race. After that, I loved the splits. Jen kept telling me to settle. She said I was fighting myself. For some reason the 7:30 pace felt weird. I didn't want to slow down, I wanted to run faster. She kept telling me that it was a long race. I decided that I would wait until mile 5ish to make a decision. After all, if I picked it up, I wanted to know that I could sustain it! Miles 2-5 - 7:35, 7:37, 7:29, 7:32 Our coach was on his bike and I kept seeing him. Jen's husband, Bobby, was on a bike too so it was nice to keep running into him.

At mile five, we had caught up to a group of runners, as we kept passing them, our pace picked up. I just went with it. As I got closer to six, I was anxious to see what my half split would be. Mile six - 7:24

I've never passed so many people. Hell, I've never passed people in long races. I ALWAYS crash and burn in the marathon! It was so fun. I played a game from here to the end if my pace was faster than a 7:15, I couldn't pass anyone but if it were slower than 7:20 then I needed to pass. It worked, too because sometimes I would catch up to another runner and realize that I was pacing off of them. My pace would have slowed slightly, so I passed. Mile 6.55 came exactly at 49:00. I did the math quickly and realized that was a 1:38. In the back of my head, I knew that the NYC qualifying time was a 1:37:00 and I knew there wasn't a cushion. I'd have to run negative splits by a minute. Game on!!

We ran down the pier at this point. It was fun running because I was able to see Penny who was ahead of me and some of my other friends that were behind. The course actually had a couple of out and back sections and for that reason, it was nice!

Miles 7 and 8: 7:16, 7:18

I didn't realize that St. Pete had hills until mile 9. We ran up a slight hill, but it lasted for almost .75 miles. I was amazed at how many people I passed here. I just tried to keep my pace consistent and was so happy that I was going to be able to finish this race running DOWN the hill. Mile 9 - 7:17

There was a mini lake at mile 10 and we had to run around it. I was trying to take in the beauty but this is when I was finally getting tired. I told myself that this is where I needed to push. I could do this ... less than 3 miles left. Mile 10 - 7:21

That 7:21 actually made me mad. I wanted a sub 7:20. So, I decided with 2 miles left to pick it up. The tops of my feet were beginning to hurt and I was upset that I had tied my shoes too tight but there really wasn't anything that I could do so I just kept running. I remember glancing down at 11.25 and seeing that my average pace for that mile was 6:50. As I high fived Laura, a runner friend that was slightly in front of me, I entered the Rays Stadium (our baseball team) as she exited. We had to run a loop on the turf. I had never been to a game (remember I just moved here in Jan 2010) and so at first I was kind of excited that we were able to run on the field ... but it was so hard. I'm sure it wasn't quite like running in sand but the turf definitely made you kind of collapse into it and it was hard to keep pace. Mile 11 - 7:31 I saw Dror and he told me I was the 30th female. Little did he know that this was motivation for me to keep passing!

One mile left and I was able to go back down the hill! I kept telling myself if I didn't start pushing then, I would be mad at myself. I knew a sub 1:37 was probably out of the question ... but it can't hurt to finish with everything that I have. Mile 13 - 7:05

The problem here though was that mile 13 came way before the mile 13 sign meaning I didn't run the best of tangets! I hit 13.1 on my Garmin in 1:36:30 something ... and then I saw the mile 13 sign. I kept running. I remember seeing the finish ahead and just closing my eyes and running ...

I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line - 1:37:35 (7:22 pace)

My Garmin said 13.23. The last .23 was run at a 6:10 pace in 85ish seconds.

Official Stats:

13.1 miles - 1:37:35 (7:27 pace)

23rd overall female out of 4,746!!

7th in age group out of almost 500

I met all of my friends at the finish! It's so great having a local race in which all of them were able to run, too! We celebrated and gave some recaps! It was a day I will never forget. It reminds me of my NYC marathon - everything went right and I was all smiles! We don't always get those kind of runs or races, so it's nice to really enjoy when we do. It truly makes all of the hard work and bad runs worth it!!

I didn't quite follow my plan but I have no regrets! Mission accomplished!

Three days later and I'm still all smiles! I'm still in awe and can't believe that I finished a half marathon in 1:37!


  1. Wow, amazing time and amazing race. Just found your blog. Happy Holidays!

  2. You had such an amazing race, I am so happy for you!!! Had so much fun with you this weekend!!!

  3. omg wow! what an amazing race experience. major major MAJOR congrats again. it was so much fun reading this :)

  4. I am so happy for you Jaime!! You deserve it, you have worked so hard! I love to see how happy you are :)

  5. Nice work Jaime!! Races that are close to home truly are the best!! So what's on tap for you next Gasparilla maybe?? Cliff Bars eh! So that's the secret behind your recent transformation into Miss McSpeedy ha! :-] Once again ... OSOM job Jaime!!